Where’s the plan for construction apprentice’s pay? Sherlock Calls Out Minister Simon Harris’s new €750,000 advertising budget to attract workers back

12 February 2024

Labour’s Worker’s Rights Spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock has today called out Minister Simon Harris for his latest political announcement in attempting to increase the number of construction workers in this country.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Instead of meaningful change to address the challenges associated with the recruitment and retention of construction apprentices in Ireland and instead of making good promises that the Minister himself made in 2023, Simon Harris has chosen to come up with another plan. The reality is that in order to secure the long term flow of skills into the construction sector, we will need more apprentices and returning workers from abroad.

“Minister Harris’s latest announcement is yet another example of politics by press release, failing to address the root issues faced by apprentices in our country. Apprenticeships are meant to provide pathways to skilled employment, but how can we expect individuals to commit to these vital roles when they’re paid so poorly? The reality is that many apprentices are forced to leave their training due to financial struggles, while other industries offer more alternatives.

“Let’s not forget that Minister Harris announced last year his intention to seek significant increases in wages for apprenticeships. Yet, where has that promise gone? It’s shocking that the apprentice year one rate is a mere €7.17 an hour, and year two is just €10.75 an hour. How can anyone live on such a low rate in today’s economy? This government must prioritise the well-being of our apprentices and ensure that they are compensated fairly for their invaluable contributions to our society.

“It’s completely unacceptable that in 2024, we still have apprentices being paid below minimum wage for their hard work. Labour has long fought for workers’ rights, and we will not stand by while apprentices are exploited. We need immediate action from the government to ensure fair pay for apprentices from day one of their training. It’s time for fair wages for apprentices. We know the detrimental impact of low pay on recruitment and retention within the sector.

“I’m calling on Government to heed Labour calls and enact legislation introduced last year to end the discrimination against apprentices and guarantee them a minimum wage. The failure of Government to address this substantial issue is a disservice to our apprentices and jeopardises the future of our construction workforce. It’s time for Minister Harris and his colleagues to prioritise the needs of workers over empty promises and “plans” and take real action to support our apprentices.”

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